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Women’s Cabinet Spring Luncheon
— page 8
INSIDE 3 Now on the web: jewishnewsva.org
12 Ohef Sholom and Temple Sinai merge
Health care in the Jewish community 33
Simon Family Legacy Society Tribute Dinner
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Upcoming Deadlines for Editorial and Advertising June 11 May 25 June 25 Legal June 8 July 16 UJFT Annual Report June 22 August 20 August 3 September 3 Rosh Hashanah August 17 September 17 Yom Kippur August 31 October 8 Mazel Tov September 21 October 22 October 5
contents Up Front. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Briefs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Torah Thought . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Divestment Resolution in Methodist Church 6 Virginia Israel Advisory Board funded . . . . . . 6 JDC visitors from Hungary. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Women’s Cabinet Spring Luncheon. . . . . . . . 8 Israel Day virtual tour at Temple Israel . . . . 10 Jewish Education Night . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Ohef Sholom Temple and Temple Sinai join together . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Kosher restaurant in Norfolk . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Toras Chaim students attend political rally . 14 Bill Nusbaum honored at Ohef Sholom. . . . 15 Nominate a Jewish Community Hero. . . . . . 16
Published 22 times a year by United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.
UJFT funds student projects. . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Perlman performance. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Ohef Sholom’s Mitzvah Day . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Simon Family Legacy Society Tribute Dinner. 20 ‘Western Wall’ at Israel Festival . . . . . . . . . . 21 YAD volunteers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Jewish Council for Public Affairs. . . . . . . . . 22 Book Reviews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 What’s Happening. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Calendar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Mazel Tov . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Obituaries. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Face to Face: Jason K. Wagner. . . . . . . . . . . 30 Healthcare and the Jewish community. . . . . 33
“I worked very hard and it was nice to be recognized, but even better than the recognition I got from it was the attention the girls’ school got.” —page 16
Friday, June 1/Sivan 11 Light candles at 8:00 pm Friday, June 8/Sivan 18 Light candles at 8:04 pm Friday, June 15/Sivan 25 Light candles at 8:07 pm Friday, June 22/Tammuz 2 Light candles at 8:08 pm Friday, June 29/Tammuz 9 Light candles at 8:09 pm Friday, July6 29/Tammuz 16 Light candles at 8:08 pm
jewishnewsva.org | May 28, 2012 | Jewish News | 3
briefs Ford Foundation awards $500,000 grant to ADL The Ford Foundation has awarded a $500,000 grant to the Anti-Defamation League to support research on anti-immigrant groups and continue anti-bias training for educators. The grant will enable ADL’s Center on Extremism to expand its efforts to gather, analyze and circulate information related to local and national anti-immigrant groups and activists across the United States. It also will allow ADL to expose the crossover between the mainstream and extremist elements of the anti-immigration movement in the U.S., according to an ADL statement. Through the same grant, the foundation also renewed its funding support of ADL’s Making Diversity Count, an online professional development program designed to help educators promote diversity and respect for all students, as well as to combat bullying. “We are so very proud to count the Ford Foundation among our closest partners in our vital work to seek justice and fair treatment for all and to further democratic values,” said Abraham Foxman, ADL’s national director. (JTA) Female Reform rabbi seated on Jerusalem suburb’s religious council A female Reform rabbi took her place on the religious council of Mevasseret Zion, a suburb of Jerusalem. Rabbi Alona Lisitsa said she did not feel hostility from the rest of the representatives—all Orthodox—of the local religious council, according to reports. The Reform Mevasseret Zion Congregation put forth Lisitsa’s name to join the council nearly a year ago. The appointment was delayed in the Ministry of Religious Affairs until the courts became involved and ordered the ministry to approve the appointment. The community’s population is mixed secular-religious. “I came with much optimism and hope, and indeed I found a different Mevasseret community,” Lisitsa said in an interview with Israel Army Radio. “We talked about the need for cooperation and the need to ignore internal differences for the residents. This is a triumph for Israeli democracy.” Lisitsa works at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem, according to her Facebook page. Religious councils supervise kashrut, and are the central address in their communities for marriage registration, synagogues,
mikvehs and burials. Israel has more than 170 religious councils. (JTA)
Israeli author Aharon Appelfeld oldest to receive British fiction prize Israeli author Aharon Appelfeld became the oldest person to win the coveted Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. The British award for the 80-yearold Appelfeld, a Holocaust survivor, was announced Tuesday, May 15. His Blooms of Darkness tells the story of an 11-year-old boy and his relationship with a prostitute who agreed to hide him in a brothel from the Nazis. “As the relationship between Hugo and Mariana evolves, this deceptively simple narrative does something extraordinary, carrying the reader to a liminal territory in which deep sensuality exists alongside unfathomable brutality,” said Hephzibah Anderson, one of the prize’s judges. Appelfeld and the book’s translator, Jeffrey Green, each will receive $8,100. The author of more than 40 books, Appelfeld said the book was “a work of fiction that includes my personal experience during the Second World War.” (JTA) Israel, Japan mark 60 years of relations Israel and Japan marked the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The anniversary, which was celebrated Tuesday, May 16 is set to be marked in both countries with a series of special events, including cultural events, academic meetings and visits by senior officials, according to Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Bilateral trade between the countries totaled $3.3 billion in 2011. Japan is promoting various investment programs with the participation of Israel and the Palestinians, including the Peace Corridor project establishing an agroindustrial park near the city of Jericho with the participation of Japan, Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan. Japanese military forces are deployed within the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force framework on the Golan Heights, and Japan also provides financial support to the Multinational Force and Observers deployed in the Sinai Desert. (JTA) Comic actor John Cleese signs on to Israeli film British comic actor John Cleese has signed on to a film by Israeli director Reshef Levi. Cleese will play a disgraced, eccentric
4 | Jewish News | May 28, 2012 | jewishnewsva.org
British lord in the heist comedy “Hunting Elephants,” in which three Israeli senior citizens help a 12-year-old boy hatch a plan to rob a bank in order to save his family home. Cleese’s participation was announced at the Cannes Film Festival and reported first by the Hollywood Reporter. Also at Cannes, an Egyptian director told reporters that he does not want his film distributed in Israel, according to Yediot Achronot. Yousry Nasrallah learned during the interview at Cannes that his film After the Battle was picked up for distribution in Israel. Several reporters reportedly applauded the director’s statement. (JTA)
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg weds Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg married a day after taking his company public. Zuckerberg, 28, and longtime girlfriend Priscilla Chan, 27, announced their marriage Saturday, May 19 by changing their Facebook statuses to “married” and posting a wedding photo. More than 280,000 people liked Zuckerberg’s status change, Reuters reported. The couple, who met 10 years ago, were wed in a small backyard ceremony. Chan recently graduated from medical school; the guests thought they had come to a graduation party for her. Facebook raised $16 billion in its initial public offering Friday, May 18. (JTA) Shalit receives honorary Rome citizenship Thousands of Italians cheered Gilad Shalit when the former captive Israeli soldier went to Rome’s City Hall to officially receive honorary citizenship of the Eternal City. “I thank you with all my heart for all you have done to obtain my liberation,” Shalit told the crowd at the Campidoglio during the emotional ceremony May 17. “I want to remember all other hostages imprisoned against their will, and I hope that they return home soon.” Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno, officially conferring honorary citizenship on Shalit, called him a “symbol of hope and of firmness against barbarism, hate and fundamentalism.” Alemanno had championed the release of Shalit, who was kidnapped and held hostage for more than five years by Hamas. He declared Shalit an honorary citizen of Rome in 2009 and a large picture of Shalit was hung on the outside of the main building of the City Hall. Alemanno flew to Israel to meet with Shalit after the soldier was freed last October. (JTA)
Trader Joe’s pareve chocolate chips go dairy Trader Joe’s semi-sweet chocolate chips will no longer be certified nondairy. OK-Certification would no longer be able to certify the products as pareve because of a change in the supplier’s production procedure, the Los Angeles Jewish Journal reported last week. In a statement, Trader Joe’s said the ingredients have not changed and the chips will continue to be made on equipment dedicated to nondairy chocolate. The bagging process, however, has changed, with the supplier now using a dry cleaning procedure for a machine that also packages milk chocolate products. These changes “triggered the need for an FDA regulated, dairy-related allergen statement, and this in turn brought about a change in the Kosher certification for our item—going from ‘Kosher Parve’ to ‘Kosher Dairy,’ ” the statement read. As a result, OK Kosher said supervising rabbis can no longer guarantee that errant milk chocolate won’t be in the semi-sweet bags. A petition at change.org urges “Trader Joe’s: Keep the Chocolate Chips Pareve!” A Facebook campaign to restore the pareve status was also launched. (JTA) Hebrew Bible published In Eskimo language After a 34-year translation project, the Hebrew and Christian Bibles were published for the first time in an Eskimo language. Last week, a group of Inuit Christians in the Canadian territory Nunavut completed the task of translating the texts into the local Inuktitut, according to Haaretz. Plant and animal names were among the biggest difficulties and often the word “tree” was used for them. In some cases, English words such as “camel” were used. One surprising difficulty was the complete absence of a term for “peace” in Inuktitut. That forced the translators to use complete sentences to get the idea across to readers, according to Haaretz. There are approximately 50,000 Inuits in Canada. The translation project was funded by the Canadian Bible Society and the Anglican Church at a cost of $1.7 million. The translation will be launched in a ceremony at the igloo-shaped St. Jude’s Anglican Cathedral in Iqaluit, Nunavut’s capital, on June 3. (JTA)
The seventy faces of the Torah
his past weekend, the Jewish world celebrated the least known of the Shelosh Regalim, the three pilgrimage festivals; the festival of Shavuot. Pesach is well-known because of the elaborate set of home rituals called a seder. And most Jews have at least some familiarity with Sukkot because of the temporary booths in which we eat and sleep for a week. Shavuot has become the poor cousin of the family of Jewish festivals; its only attempt at notoriety being the consuming of dairy products, particularly cheesecake. The three Regalim were originally connected with the seasons of the ancient Israelite agrarian society and the mitzvot of bringing sacrifices to the Temple in gratitude to the God of Israel. The holidays were then given historical significance of major proportions connecting each with an essential occurrence in the Biblical experience of the people of Israel. Pesach is the time of our people’s liberation, Shavuot the giving and accepting of the Torah, and Sukkot the 40-year trek in the wilderness. Each of these three stages in the maturing of our people is also a stage in the development of the relationship between God and Israel. Shavuot is the middle stage, the agreement upon the details of that relationship; the basis of our commitment to God and, complementing that, His promises to us. The Torah has been at the center of Jewish existence ever since that worldchanging event at Sinai more than 32 centuries ago. Our oldest of traditions teaches us that the Torah given by God to Israel through Moshe is identical to the text of the Torah contained in the scrolls kept in synagogues throughout the world. More than 2,000 years of rabbinic teaching has made that identification. Jews during all that time kept the belief of Torah MiSinai as the keystone of all Jewish life and civilization. And then came the Modern Age of scientific investigation. The basic assump-
tion of the integrity of the Torah text was questioned forthe first time in ages. For some, the answer to the “question” was to dismiss it as if it were not there. They only felt comfortable with the Tradition as it had been for millennia. For others, the “question” was so overwhelming it could not be dismissed so that the Torah itself could no longer provide the basis of Jewish life. Still others refused to dismiss the “question” but also refused to relinquish the Tradition. This third group has spent the past few centuries painfully attempting to reconcile the two, never quite satisfied with every new solution proposed. What are the barriers to the kind of faith our ancestors professed for so long? They form the categories of the modern study of the Jewish Bible. Let us go through them briefly. First, how do we determine with precision the actual wording (letters, vowels, trop) of the Biblical text? Somewhat more than a 1,000 years ago, Jewish scholars took note that texts around the Jewish world were not identical to each other. Theologically, this was a disaster since the Tradition, Massora, taught that the Torah, and many of the other books in the Biblical canon, were the word of God. To have any variation from copy to copy would confuse the messages and instructions contained in them. A group of scholars in Israel began a long and painstaking process to regain the original and authentic text. Calling themselves the Messoratiyim, Massoretes, they produced the Massoretic text of the Hebrew Bible considered by Jews to be the only authentic text. These scholars also determined the vowels to be included in a vocalized text as well as innovating a set of markings designed to punctuate the Hebrew to insure its particular meaning. These markings became known as Ta’amey HaMikra or in later, Yiddish, terminology, trop. The question for modern scholars is, did the Messoratiyim succeed in restoring the wording of Moshe from Sinai?” Why would scholars formulate that question? After all, a believing Jew should have little difficulty making that leap of faith. The problem came from the fact that the earliest extant examples of the texts of the Bible did not jibe with the Massoretic text. In the mid-20th century, a discovery was made in caves near the Dead Sea in Israel of a group of ancient scrolls, some of which were copies of Biblical books dating from the first century. These scrolls were
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not identical to the Massoretic text. In addition, the earliest translations of the Bible in Aramaic and Greek, when translated back into Hebrew, are not identical to the Massoretic text. In the Middle Ages, the period of classical parshanut, commentary, the great Bible scholars produced explanations for the hard-to-understand phrases that would not be easily readable by the average educated Jew. Occasionally, even they, believing Jews all, needed to acknowledge a difficulty in the text which suggested that the Torah might not be of unified origin. The most famous example is a comment from R. Avraham Ibn Ezra on the phrase “v’hakena’ani az ba’arets,” “and the Canaanite was in the land then.” The phrase infers that there is a narrator who is speaking from a time after that in which the action in the narrative takes place. Careful reading, or a term used by contemporary literacy critics, “close reading,” produced the idea that the text of the Torah consists of a number of separate documents blended together to make a whole. Upsetting to many, including some of the scholars who proposed this theory, the idea is based upon textual discrepancies such as contradictory contents, inconsistent use of vocabulary, differing writing styles, etc, reflecting origins at varying points in the Biblical period. . In the 20th century, archeology in Israel
and other parts of the Middle East led to discoveries about the world in which Biblical civilization developed. Information came to light, allowing for new analyses of Biblical narratives, legal codes, poetry, wisdom sayings, and other literary genres never before imagined. The Flood story in B’reishit was now to be compared with Babylonian parallels. The Covenant Code in Sh’mot proved to closely parallel the Hittite Law Code. The list goes on. For many Jews, these discoveries proved that Biblical texts, even the Torah, were no longer to be considered of divine origin and, therefore, lacked the authority of God-given words. But these people did not examine the Biblical texts carefully enough. Yes, similarities were many but, whereas the Ancient Near Eastern material was definitely literary and the caliber and sophistication of the stories, poems, and legal material was surprisingly high for such ancient texts, they all lacked a very important quality. They did not possess the visceral feeling, the passion, the love that Biblical texts espouse in the relationships among human beings and between people and God! The Jewish Bible will always be different from all the other examples of Ancient Near Eastern literature because it teaches its readers to care; about God, about humans, about animals, about the world around us. —Cantor Gordon Piltch, Beth El
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Divestment Resolution defeated in Methodist Church by Jewish Council for Public Affairs
n attempt to force the United Methodist Church (UMC) to divest from three companies doing business with Israel was overwhelmingly defeated on May 2 at the UMC’s quadrennial General Conference. Instead, the UMC supported a motion calling for “positive investment” into the Palestinian economy, by a 3 to 1 margin. “We are glad that responsible voices in the UMC were able to defeat this harmful proposal and focus on positive investment,” says Rabbi Steve Gutow, JCPA president. “The rejection of divestment is a welcome outcome and a relief to me and the over 1,200 American rabbis who signed an unprecedented letter to Church delegates offering partnership in peacemaking and warning that divestment would undermine ongoing efforts for peace and damage interfaith relations.” Had the divestment resolution passed, it would have required the UMC to divest from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions. Efforts to remove divestment language succeeded in the early stages of the General Conference and attempts to add it
back failed by 2-1 margins. Signed by clergy in all 50 states, the Rabbinic letter was also signed by many clergy in Tidewater. The letter was coordinated by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the Israel Action Network, a joint initiative of the Jewish Federations of North America and the JCPA, together with leaders from the American Jewish Committee and the Conservative, Reconstructionist, Reform, and Orthodox movements. Serious concerns remain, as the General Conference also narrowly passed an unhelpful resolution rebuking Israeli settlements and calling for a boycott of products made in them—although explicitly rejecting a boycott of products made in Israel. In Tidewater, the Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater “is fortunate to have made great relationships with Methodist friends. We were able to call on them for support in reaching out to local representatives of the Methodist community attending the General Conference. We are thankful to have such great friends and know that these relationships are important to building a community,” says Robin Mancoll, CRC director.
Virginia Israel Advisory Board funded for FY2013 and FY2014 thanks to Tidewater and state-wide grass roots efforts
ore than 320 notes and signatures were sent by the Tidewater community to Governor Bob McDonnell’s office, advocating for full funding for the Virginia Israel Advisory Board, $175,361 for FY2013 and FY2014. With this funding and a commitment for VIAB to remain an independent agency, the Virginia Israel Advisory Board is poised to continue its success in creating an astounding 100 to 150 new jobs in Virginia each year, and returning more than $5 for every $1 invested from the state coffers. Community members did not do this alone; a bi-partisan Virginia General Assembly shared its support for VIAB, championed by the patron of VIAB’s budget amendment, Majority Caucus Leader Delegate Tim Hugo. VIAB’s founder, former Virginia Governor George Allen, deserves thanks for his support. Also supporting this important program were House of Delegates Speaker William Howell, Delegate Sal Iaquinto, State Senator Mark Obenshain, and Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn (who sent a letter from JCRC’s Israel mission alumni and members of the informal Virginia Jewish caucus), State Senators George
Barker, Creigh Deeds and Adam Ebbin, and Delegates Bob Brink, David Englin, Antonio Lopez, Lionel Spruill and Scott Surovell. House Majority Leader, Representative Eric Cantor, as well as Representative Scott Rigell also each reached out to Governor McDonnell. Ultimately, it was Governor McDonnell who increased the Virginia Israel Advisory Board’s funding and offered continued support for the board. Many have already expressed their appreciation to him. For those who have not yet sent a note of appreciation, here’s how: Call or write to the Governor at Office of the Governor, Patrick Henry Building, 3rd Floor, 1111 East Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23219; via email at: robert.f.mcdonnell@governor. virginia.gov; by phone at (804) 786-2211. Or, visit the JCRC in Greater Washington’s website, select their Virginia advocacy page, to send a letter to Delegate Sal Iaquinto and Delegate Lionel Spruill, as well as the Governor at www.jcouncil.org. In Tidewater, the Community Relations Council of the UJFT spearheaded the drive to deliver a strong and unified message on this issue.
JDC visitors from Hungary find abundant generosity in Tidewater by Laine M. Rutherford
s a young child in Moldova, being Jewish m e a n t two things to Zoya Shvartzman: her parents spoke a strange language at home, and she was pushed to be better than anyone else, particularly in school. The language wasn’t Karen Jaffe, Taly Shau;. Betty Ann Levin, and Zoya Shvartzman identified as Yiddish, nor was the expectation of excellence attributed to the discrimina- Foundation. While here, the women visited tion and anti-Semitism that prevailed in the the Sandler Family Campus, Beth Sholom small European country in the early 1980s. Village, and, most relevant to Shaul, the It wasn’t until she was eight, and her Jewish Family Service of Tidewater. mother insisted Shvartzman take part in a Shaul was involved in planning the Jewish choir, that she learned more about Jaffe Jewish Family Service in Budapest, Judaism. Hungary, which was modeled, in part, after “It was there that I ate my first matzo the Tidewater JFS. She, and others, worked and lit my first Shabbat candle,” says closely with local resident Karen Jaffe and Shvartzman. A few months later, the family members of the Jaffe family to open the made Aliyah to Israel. center in 2007. The Jaffe JFS provides Shvartzman, director of resource devel- programming and support services to underopment in Europe for the American Jewish privileged children and families in Hungary. Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), told Two thousand Jewish children have been the story to members of the Women’s identified in need of services there. Cabinet of the United Jewish Federation “This is the first time I have seen a of Tidewater during their spring luncheon. Jewish Family Service in this country and The reason she shared her child- I am so impressed,” notes Shaul, who lives hood experiences, she said, was to let the in Hungary but was originally from Israel. Tidewater community know that when they “The facilities are beautiful and the services give to the UJFT’s Annual Campaign, they offered are so important. We aren’t there yet are helping people like her. in my country, but it gives us inspiration to “When I was older, and I moved with see what one day we might be able to do in my mother to Vancouver, we fell on hard Hungary.” times again,” she remembers. “The Jewish The two women gave presentations to community helped us with food, but they community members while here. They didn’t only fill our stomachs. They also shared the history of Hungary and its filled our souls.” Jewish population. The number of Jews livThree years ago, Shvartzman discovered ing in the country has fluctuated between the Jewish choir she took part in as a child over a million prior to Holocaust, to somewasn’t just any Jewish choir, it was a JDC where around 100,000 today. funded program. “It is difficult to get an accurate number “You have no idea how much it meant to because Jews still don’t want to put their me to realize there are people out there who names on any lists,” says Shaul. “That is didn’t even know me, who cared not only how they were found during the Holocaust. about my physical self, but my spiritual There were lists of where people lived, and self as well,” says Shvartzman. “You might the Hungarians—who were responsible for not be aware of what your actions do for most of the 540,000 Jews persecuted in one thousands of people around the world. I’m year—knew exactly where to find the Jews.” here to tell you that what you do makes a Shaul noted that because of programs, difference.” many JDC-funded, younger Hungarians are Shvartzman was in Virginia Beach with beginning to identify themselves as Jews. her colleague Taly Shaul, JDC’s deputy She also noted Hungary has the second director in Hungary and the general direc- largest synagogue in Europe, a rabbinitor of the Hungarian Jewish Social Support cal seminary, a Jewish University, a Jewish
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hospital, and a Jewish camp that teens from throughout the Former Soviet Union and Europe attend. “I must tell you though, that there is anti-Semitism in Hungary and it is getting worse,” Shaul says. “It is very frightening. They use all of the vocabulary from before the war and Jewish people are becoming afraid again.” The mix of sobering and positive reports Shaul and Shvartzman gave to community members and agencies were met with welcome interest. Both women said they came to Tidewater as strangers, but within hours felt like they were among family—a family they found to be warm and generous. “From Israel, I needed to go to Hungary
to find out that Jewish identity can not be taken for granted,” Shaul says. “I needed to come to America to find out how privileged you are and what it is like not to be discriminated against because of your religion. “And I needed to come to Tidewater to see the wonderful community and people who care and do, not only for people here, but for other communities and countries, too.” The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the Jaffe Jewish Family Service, Beth Sholom Village, and Jewish Family Service of Tidewater are all helped financially through generous gifts made to the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Annual Campaign.
jewishnewsva.org | May 28, 2012 | Jewish News | 7
Women’s Cabinet Spring Luncheon welcomes and inspires
by Laine M. Rutherford
itting in the sunlit great room of Cindy Kramer’s Virginia Beach home, members and guests at the Women’s Cabinet Installation Luncheon were served a healthy meal peppered with introductions, information and conversation. The annual meeting, held this year on May 10, gave new members of the Women’s Cabinet of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater a chance to meet their peers in an informal environment. “I joined the Cabinet to meet new women, to begin new relationships and to build new friendships,” says Barbara Dudley, who was one of four women installed at the event. “I knew some of the faces, but not all. Everyone made me feel comfortable at the short meet and greet, the setting was lovely and I liked seeing that there were members across the age span.” The luncheon opened with a welcome from Women’s Cabinet Co-Chair Jodi Klebanoff. Cabinet member Janet Mercadante followed with a brief D’var Torah, an interpretation of the week’s Torah portion, which told of the high priest’s responsibility and commitment to the community, above and beyond his own personal needs. “We all have challenges in our lives, and yet if we retreated from our roles as leaders with every challenge that confronts us, we would be woefully short of leaders,”
Mercadante said. “We must ask ourselves, what legacy are we imparting to future generations? “Will we be remembered for the wringing of our hands and hopelessness, or for the faith and hope we inspired? It’s all in our hands; the choice is ours to make. By serving on Women’s Cabinet, I believe we have all made that choice,” Mercadante concluded. Amy Levy, immediate past chair of Women’s Cabinet and the chair of its nominating committee, welcomed the newly installed members: Dudley, Stacie Hofheimer Moss, Carin Simon and Marcy Mostofsky. Levy also thanked out-going Cabinet members Ellen Rosenblum, Linda Belkov and Judi Snyder for their years of service. Special guests, Taly Shaul and Zoya Shvartzman, traveled from Hungary to attend the event. Cabinet member Karen Jaffe, an executive board member of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), introduced the women. She lauded their expertise and familiarity with the living conditions of Jews in Europe, most specifically in Hungary where Jaffe’s family established the JDC-run Jaffe Jewish Family Service. “At the Jaffe Jewish Family Service, we have a comprehensive, holistic program that provides a service to children and families in an organized way,” said Shaul, JDC’s deputy director in Hungary and the general director of the Hungarian Jewish Social Support
The luncheon was in the home of Cindy Kramer.
8 | Jewish News | May 28, 2012 | jewishnewsva.org
Foundation. “Our goal is to ensure that children don’t suffer and to promote Jewish identity. We open the doors for hope and a better future.” Since opening in 2007, the Jaffe JFS has reached 540 families and 900 children out of 2,000 children recognized as disadvantaged. Shaul Janet Mercadante welcomes members of the Women’s Cabinet. stressed the statistics are considered a great achievement in a country where Jews are still reluctant to claim their heritage, anti-Semitism is on the rise and the perception in the country is that all Jews are wealthy. Shvartzman thanked the members of the Women’s Cabinet for supporting the Jaffe JFS and the JDC through their giving to the Federation’s Annual Campaign. She thanked them as well for continuing to learn about the existing and emerging needs in the Jewish world, for their leadership, and for the help they have provided to countless numbers of people. “You should know,” stressed Shvartzman, JDC’s director of resource development in Europe, “that what you do is not just impacting lives. It is transforming people’s Guest speaker presents a disturbing image of antilives around the world. Semitic graffiti showing up in Hungary.
Zoya Shvartzman and Taly Shaul present a gift to the Women’s Cabinet in appreciation for Tidewater’s contributions to the Jewish community in Hungary.
Lucy Cardon and Karen Jaffe.
Amy Lefcoe, Stacie Hofheimer Moss, Amy Levy, and Janet Mercadante.
Lynn Schoenbaum, Annie Sandler, and Stephanie Adler Calliott.
Ina Levy, Connie Jacobson, Mimi Karesh, Miriam Seeherman, and Delores Bartel.
Danielle Leibovici, Laura Miller, and Cindy Kramer.
“I know, because I was one of those people,” Shvartzman said. The Israeli citizen, originally from Moldova, first learned of her Jewish heritage when she was eight, through a JDC-sponsored program. Shaul and Shvartzman’s personal and professional stories made an impression on Barbara Dudley. “It is nice putting names and faces together with the affect the dollars raised in this community can have on people’s
lives,” says Dudley. “Attending this event and finding out about all of the wonderful upcoming programming makes me look forward to getting more involved.” The Women’s Cabinet is a committee of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, whose role is to raise funds and build Jewish community. Cabinet members serve as campaign ambassadors and role models, promoting education, financial resource
Laura Gross, Women’s Cabinet chair, Jodi Klebanoff, Women’s Cabinet vice-chair, Zoya Shvartzman, Taly Shaul and Karen Jaffe.
development and outreach to all women in the Jewish community. The cabinet is comprised of women from diverse backgrounds and synagogue affiliations, ages 40 and up. The requirements for serving are: a demonstrated leadership in the Jewish community; a minimum individual campaign gift of $365 per year; and a willingness to solicit others for donations to the Federation’s Annual Campaign. The mem-
bers of Women’s Cabinet share a love for Jewish community and a spirit of activism to help improve Jewish lives at home and around the world. For more information on Women’s Cabinet, Women’s Outreach Programs, or how to support the Women’s Division of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, call Amy Zelenka, Women’s Campaign director, at 965-6139 or email AZelenka@ujft.org.
Guest speakers Zoya Shvartzman and Taly Shaul shared stories about the living condition of Jews in Hungary, and about Tidewater’s impact there. jewishnewsva.org | May 28, 2012 | Jewish News | 9
Israel Day virtual tour at Temple Israel by Kathryn Morton
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n another in the series of all-school activity mornings, Temple Israel’s Sunday school students grouped into Travel Teams to visit Israel on April 29. Each child got a passport, which was stamped at each station, and a name of someone they would learn about later. The students prepared for their tour of the Holy Land by untangling map words using a colorful six-foot map. Guided by Rabbi Michael Panitz, teams went back in time to the early days of Israel’s settlement. With Sheila Panitz in the artistic town of Sfat, they created beautiful gilded Mizrachs. They made wishes at the Jaffa Wishing Bridge and, with Elyssa Brinn’s help, they distinguished those wishes from the prayers they would write to put into the Western Wall. At Yad Vashem, each student took out that special name and used a roster from the actual Holocaust Memorial to find information about one of the million children murdered in the Holocaust. On the pages of names were the lost children’s names, birthdays, hometowns, where they were killed and how old each child had been. The abstract idea became real as the students saw that their child had been only nine-, or six- or two-years old. Student Haley Bosher was stunned to see that her child had the same birth date as her own. In honor of the lost child, each student said their child’s name, lit a candle and read a prayer promising to do acts of kindness in memory of the lost child. As serious as some of the activities were, others were goofy. Groups sang with the “street musician” Andy Rabiner at Ben Yehudah Street. They snacked on Israeli
Children at the “Western Wall.”
Children at “Yad Vashem.”
food in Tel Aviv at a “disco” where the two hours of adventure ended with a dance competition. The rabbi twirled his wife, teacher Amy Bosher demonstrated break dancing, while some youngsters added handstands to the lively scene. All the “travelers” arrived back in the U.S. in time for Hebrew classes, which they entered with more than the usual number of questions about the language of the Land of Israel.
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City of Chesapeake’s National Day of Prayer celebration with Rabbi Israel Zoberman of Congregation Beth Chaverim and Mayor Allen P. Krasnoff of Chesapeake.
Jewish Education Night, 2012
ewish learning—its to build partnerships teachers and adminand grow outside each istrators of all the group’s usual realm. community Jewish She reminded the eduschools were honcators that partnering ored at this year’s Jewish with the JCC is a great Education Night on May way to promote their 14 at the Simon Family own programs, while JCC. Many awards and also collaborating in a recognitions were given way that helps bring the to deserving teachers and community together in youth. new and different ways. Annabel Sacks, chair Rabbi Mordechai of the United Jewish Loiterman, principal of Federation Education Toras Chaim, presented Council, opened the eveYouth Awards to young ning with welcoming Annabel Sacks, chairperson, people who work or remarks. She thanked UJFT Jewish Education Council. volunteer in area synathe UJFT and Tidewater gogues and schools. Jewish Foundation for their support of Alene Jo Kaufman, director of Strelitz Jewish Education Night. Early Childhood Center, presented four Cantor Gordon Piltch of Congregation special awards. One was to Gail Bachman Beth El led singing of the National Anthem for her 46 years of service to the Religious and Hatikvah, followed by a D’Var Torah by School of Ohef Sholom Temple. Another Rabbi Jeff Arnowitz of Congregation Beth El. went to Leah Schwartz for Chai (18) years Greetings were also delivered by Alvin of teaching in various schools in the comWall, president of the UJFT, and Sandra munity and one was given to Rabbi Susie Porter Leon, president of the Simon Family Tendler for her years of involvement in JCC. Leon’s message to the educators was Jewish education at Congregation Beth
El and the Florence Melton Adult MiniSchool. She is moving to Chattanooga, Tenn. to lead a congregation there. The fourth award was given to Zena Herod, outgoing head of school for the Hebrew Academy of Tidewater. Kitty Wolf, Religious School educator of Ohef Sholom Temple, presented Continuing Education Certificates to all educators who devoted at least 10 hours during this year to Jewish learning and teaching outside the realm of their “official” jobs. Ina Mirman Leiderman presented the community’s annual gift to each educator, a CD of a high school boys’ acapella singing group from New City, N.Y. called Trey Kaley. In addition to the CD, each person received a sheet with the words in Hebrew and English of all the songs on the CD. Kevin Tabakin, the 2011 Jewish Educator of the Year, called up a stunned and delighted Lorna Orleans to the podium to present her with the 2012 Jewish Educator of the Year award. Orleans has taught for many years at the Strelitz Early Childhood Center, as well as at Temple Israel’s religious school. The award recipient for this annual award is a surprise until the announcement at Jewish Education Night.
Lorna Orleans, 2012 Educator of the Year with Kevin Tabakin, the 2011 recipient of the award.
Miriam Brunn Ruberg, director of Jewish Life and Learning for the Simon Family JCC, thanked the large crowd for attending and for their passion for inspiring others to learn and grow from their Jewish knowledge. After a closing prayer by Rabbi Michael Barnett of Temple Emanuel, a dessert reception took place, while education displays from each school in the community were viewed.
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jewishnewsva.org | May 28, 2012 | Jewish News | 11
Ohef Sholom Temple and Temple Sinai join together
wo congregations will soon officially be one. On Sunday, June 3, Temple Sinai of Portsmouth and Ohef Sholom Temple of Norfolk will come together as one congregational family. The day will begin with a ceremony at Temple Sinai, where Rabbi Arthur Steinberg will speak about the past and the door now opening into a new future. Rabbi Steinberg says he will emphasize that a congregation is the people who are its members, not the building it occupies. Present and past presidents of Temple Sinai will then carry their two
Torahs to a waiting vehicle for a special, police-escorted, procession to their new home. Rabbi Steinberg, along with Rabbi Rosalin Mandelberg of Ohef Sholom Temple, will accompany the Torahs, and will be followed by members of both congregations for the ride to Norfolk. Cantor Wally Schachet-Briskin of Ohef Sholom Temple will be waiting, along with the choir and other members of Ohef Sholom, on the steps of the Stockley Gardens entrance to welcome the procession. Michael Blachman and Rick Rivin, sons of founding members of Temple Sinai, will carry the Torahs up
the steps into Ohef Sholom Temple’s sanctuary and ceremonially pass them to three founding members, Zelma Rivin and Louis and Isabel Brenner, and members of Temple Sinai’s board of trustees. Cantor Wally Schachet-Briskin and the choir will lead the procession in song. The Ohef Sholom Chapel will be rededicated and named the Sinai Chapel, and the celebration will conclude with a luncheon sponsored by Temple Sinai and Ohef Sholom Temple’s Sisterhood and Men’s Club. Temple Sinai was founded in 1953 by nine Portsmouth
Rabbi Steinberg and Kitty Wolf, along with the leadership and membership of Temple Sinai, bring immeasurable experiences and gifts which we look forward to learning from and incorporating into Temple life.
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members of Ohef Sholom Temple who thought their community could support a Reform temple. Religious services were held in the Women’s Club of Portsmouth, the Coca-Cola Bottling Works and the Suburban Country Club. Religious school was held at John Tyler Elementary School. Land on Hatton Point Drive was purchased in 1955, and the cornerstone was laid the following year. The goal of a 100-family membership was reached in 1996. The years passed quickly, filled with the Oasis Soup Kitchen, HIV Dinner Program, Portsmouth Volunteers for the Homeless, resettlement of Russian Jews, interfaith activities, and adult education, including “A Taste of Judaism.” Tulip bulbs sold initially by Sisterhood helped beautify Portsmouth and were even sent to the White House. The main fundraiser--the annual themed auction--brought people from throughout Hampton Roads, drawn by the creative leadership of Ted Bonk and Rick Rivin. Rabbi Steinberg became the rabbi in
1980 as temple life continued to revolve around Shabbat, High Holy Days, festivals and lifecycle events. In 1986, the religious schools of Temple Sinai and Gomley Chesed Synagogue joined forces to become the Portsmouth United Religious School under the direction of Kitty Wolf-Steinberg. “We are delighted to welcome Temple Sinai into our Ohef Sholom Temple family,” says Rabbi Rosalin Mandelberg. “Rabbi Steinberg and Kitty Wolf, along with the leadership and membership of Temple Sinai, bring immeasurable experiences and gifts which we look forward to learning from and incorporating into Temple life. Their long history of dedication to and engagement in Jewish life will only strengthen and deepen our vital Reform Jewish community in Tidewater.” With the welcoming of Temple Sinai into Ohef Sholom Temple, the story has come full circle, as Temple Sinai resides right where it began.
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ako Suissa wants the Hampton Roads Jewish community to have a restaurant and keep it. Pepe New York, Suissa’s new pizzeria located in Ghent, is the product of careful research into successful New York pizza shops. It meets the strictest of Kosher standards. “I wanted to do something nice for both Ghent and the Jewish community,” says Suissa, “Our pizza is really good. All of our ingredients are fresh and everything is made right here.” Suissa was inspired to create the restaurant after building five similar restaurants for a friend in New York. He spent weeks studying the business and learning the trade before opening his own. The current menu includes several varieties of pizza, falafel, calzones, Stromboli, cheesestuffed pretzels and various salads. Pizza is available in 18-inch pies or by the slice. Suissa chose the name “Pepe New York” because he felt it sounded humble and friendly – the character his restaurant portrays. He can be found behind the counter most hours of the day, and he often takes time to meet and talk to his customers. “My goal is to have a successful restaurant, but I need your support,” says Suissa, “I want to make everyone happy and con-
tinue to expand our menu.” Suissa plans to add fish entrées, other Italian dishes and an expanded salad bar, as well as wifi and music. At $16.95 for an 18-inch pizza, his prices are well-below comparable New York pizzerias, even with the added expense of kosher ingredients. Pepe New York is located at 727 West 21st Street in the former Rita’s storefront. It is open for lunch and dinner daily, and closes Friday afternoon until Saturday night in observance of Shabbat. The restaurant is under the kosher supervision of the Vaad HaKashrus of Tidewater.
Toras Chaim students attend political rally Mitt Romney’s visit on Thursday, May 3 to Portsmouth was an exciting educational opportunity for the students of Toras Chaim. Seventh and eighth grade civics class students have been following the electoral process all year. Having them experience the process first hand, as well as meet many of the personalities they have been reading about, brought life to their learning. The students listened closely to Congresswoman Michelle Bachman, Governor Bob McDonell, and Mitt Romney at the Republican rally. The students met these leaders and discussed some of the topics that they had studied. “Not only did we understand what he (Mitt Romney) was saying when he spoke, we actually took interest in it and learned a lot from it, since we did not forget our civics vocabulary words,” says Malka Edery, a seventh grade student.
Michelle Bachman with Toras Chaim seventh and eighth grade students Dalya Miller, Ellya Suisa, Batsheva Silver, Miriam Wilson, Malka Edery, Devorah Lowebraun, and Fradel Blum.
“Since you don’t get to meet the governor and congresswomen every day, we wanted to say hi. Posing for a couple of pictures and getting some pretty cool autographs ended the field trip perfectly. Don’t forget we were even on live TV!!!” says the Edery.
Bill Nusbaum honored at Ohef Sholom with Kaufmann award
hef Sholom Temple’s Men’s Club presented William L. Nusbaum with its prestigious Henry B. Kaufmann Award for Service to the temple and the community on Sunday, May 6. Emceed by the Honorable Lou Sherman, several speakers took the podium to praise Nusbaum’s accomplishments on behalf of the Temple and the wider community. In addition to serving on numerous Temple standing and clergy Bill Nusbaum search committees as a participant or chair, Nusbaum has served on Ohef Sholom’s board of directors for more than a quarter century, as an officer on the executive committee, and as Temple president, 2007-2009. As an example of Nusbaum’s service to the broader community, Karen Joyner, chief financial officer of the Foodbank
of Southeastern Virginia, praised his accomplishments as past president and honorary life director of the Foodbank. Rabbi Rosalin Mandelberg said, “Everything Bill has done has been with all of his heart and soul and mind. He is always the first to volunteer, whether it is to feed the hungry or to draft and fully execute the Plan of Merger with Temple Sinai. In everything he does, he goes above and beyond the call of duty… Bill executes every task with kindness, respect, sincerity and honor.” Nusbaum’s family of devoted volunteers to Temple and Tidewater include his grandmother Justine Nusbaum, of blessed memory, his father, Robert C. Nusbaum, his wife Sharon, and following in her parents’ footsteps, his daughter Leigh.
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Nominate a Jewish Community Hero
by Laine M. Rutherford
he next time you’re out in the Jewish community, look to your left, look to your right; look at yourself. Chances are you’ll see a Jewish Community
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Hero. The United Jewish Federation of Tidewater wants to recognize these heroes, sharing the passion and dedication they have to helping others and to tikkun olam (repairing the world). The 2nd Annual UJFT Hampton Roads Jewish Community Hero campaign begins June 1, when online nominations can be submitted on the Federation website, www.jewishva.org. Anyone can nominate a Jewish hero; submissions will be accepted on the website until June 30. Nominees can win a $500 grant toward a non-profit organization of their choosing if selected as the 2012 Hampton Roads Jewish Community Hero. Last year’s local finalists were also eligible to win the national Jewish Community Hero award and a $25,000 grant from the Jewish Federations of North America. Similar to the process adopted in 2011, after the nomination period ends, a committee comprised of community members from all backgrounds and affiliations will chose five Hero finalists. On July 15, the public will be introduced to the five individuals up for the 2012 Hampton Roads Jewish Community Hero award. The community is then invited to vote one time for the nominee of their choice. The winner receiving the most community votes will be announced in September, as the UJFT kicks off its Annual Campaign.
“It was very flattering and very humbling to be named the Hampton Roads Jewish Community Hero,” says Amy Brooke, a Norfolk resident who was the 2011 winner. Brooke, a mother of three, works as a cardiac discharge nurse Amy Brooke, 2011 Hampton Roads educator at Sentara Jewish Hero. Heart Hospital. She was nominated for her dedication to the founding and promotion of Bina Girls’ High School. The Jewish girls’ school is now celebrating its fifth anniversary and third graduating class. Brooke donated her $500 award to Bina. “I worked very hard and it was nice to be recognized, but even better than the recognition I got from it was the attention the girls’ school got,” Brooke says. “When I received this prestigious award, Bina’s name was out there too, and people were more interested and aware of its presence in the community.” Brooke says initially she was hesitant about the campaign because of kavod, a Hebrew word meaning respect, or honor. Brooke quotes Pirkei Avos: “If one seeks his own kavod, his kavod runs away from him.” But as she gave more thought to the recognition, she found many positive aspects of participating in the Hero campaign. “Very often people don’t like to have the honor—what we call kavod; they shy away from it. But I think there are opportunities where it can be good. “Sometimes, it’s important in the community for people to know about the hard work and efforts that aren’t necessarily publicized,” Brooke says. “You never know how that information will touch a person, an organization, or ultimately, how it may affect the greater Jewish community.” To find out more about the 2012 Hampton Roads Jewish Community Hero campaign, and to see guidelines and nomination forms, please visit www.jewishva.org.
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16 | Jewish News | May 28, 2012 | jewishnewsva.org
Old Dominion Post 158, Jewish War Veterans of USA, Absent a Commander, the Post is in repose. All funds are being deposited in the Jewish War Veterans Fund with the Tidewater Jewish Foundation. For further information, please contact Stanley Samuels at 627.0133 or Philip Rovner at 965-6109.
Students get help from Federation gifts
by Laine M. Rutherford
tudents at the Hebrew Academy of Tidewater are fortunate to have some of the most modern, technologicallyforward learning tools in their classrooms. Some of the hi-tech tools come via the use of Interactive White Boards, commonly known as smart boards, which allow teachers to engage their classes in lessons while connected to the internet, or a printer, or a multi-media set-up. In many parts of the United States and throughout the world, however, purchasing smart boards and funding the continued education required for teachers to effectively use them is cost prohibitive. In Israel, for schools and communities on the periphery—with limited resources, crowded classrooms and large immigrant populations—the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater is helping to meet the challenge of engaging disadvantaged students in learning, in training teachers, and in equipping classrooms with these state-of –the-art learning tools. Through generous gifts made to the UJFT, and subsequent allocations to World ORT, the Tidewater Jewish community is participating in the highly successful Israeli program Kadima Mada, or Science Journey. World ORT first launched Kadima Mada in 2007 in partnership with the Israeli Ministry of Education. The multi-faceted, multi-million dollar project has redefined science and technology education in Israel, combining state-of-the-art, interactive classrooms with progressive pedagogical techniques and ongoing teacher training. Smart boards are an essential part of the program. They replace traditional chalk-andtalk teaching methods, allowing instructors to explain lessons with accompanying visuals from a web-connected computer and LCD projector. Students don’t just sit and listen; they interact, “writing” on the board
with computerized markers connected to laptop or desktop computers. Sara Trub is a member of the UJFT’s Israel and overseas committee, an active member of the local ORT chapter, a former vice-president of ORT America, and an incoming World ORT allocations and fundraising committee member. She says Israeli teachers who are fortunate enough to be a part of the Kadima Mada project are seeing much more involvement in their classes. Students in two Israeli schools are now equipped with UJFT-supplied smart boards. The money allocated from the community was matched by the government; four “smart” classrooms are actively being used by hundreds of students. Israel is not the only country where Tidewater’s generosity is making a difference. For students who attend the ORT Aleph Jewish Gymnasium (school) in Zaporojie, Ukraine, donations from UJFT mean they can reliably get to school. Through a World ORT program, private busses take students to and from school, relieving parents of the $1,500 average transportation costs per month, per child. “The grants from our Federation to World ORT’s programs over the past 10 years have made a significant difference in the lives of Jewish students, not just in Israel and the Ukraine, but also in Argentina during its financial crisis,” Trub says. To learn more about ORT programs in Israel, two ORT students from Kiryat Ata will be in Tidewater on June 8. For more information, contact Abbie Laderberg at 4977238, Sara Trub at 572-7037, or visit the Community Calendar at www.jewishva.org. For more information about smart boards and Kadima Mada, scan the code with a smart phone or visit www.jewishva. org to watch a video. jewishnewsva.org | May 28, 2012 | Jewish News | 17
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tudents of the Perlman Music Project, along with their mentor, Itzhak Perlman, received three standing ovations at the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts. The concert was copresented by the Itzhak Perlman Virginia Arts Festival and the Marilyn and Marvin Simon Family JCC as the final Main Event of the season. The legendary violinist performed Mozart String Quintet no 4 in G minor, K 516 with his students and then the students performed Shostakovich Pieces (2) for String Octet, Op. 11 on their own. After intermission, the maestro returned for Mendelssohn String Octet in E-flat major, Op. 20 accompanied by his students. A special reception following the concert, catered by the Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus’ Cardo Café allowed guests of the Virginia Arts Festival and the Simon Family JCC to mingle with Perlman’s gifted students. “I spoke with Ihnseon Park who was getting her degree from Columbia University while also attending Juilliard,” says Michael Shroyer. “It’s hard to imagine the dedication, passion and time this requires, considering students such as this one travels at least monthly during the school year for performances.” “I particularly enjoyed talking with Andrew Gonzales, who is from this area,” says Alan Bartel. “I also learned that when these gifted students leave Juilliard and their studies with Mr. Perlman, they are in much the same situation as anyone looking for a job. The music world is a tough one for string players, and in this age of cutbacks in the arts world, it’s a real shame that some of them can’t make a real name for them self or find a leading position with an orchestra. For some, right now may be the pinnacle of their career.” “The Perlman Concert was a perfect example of how a partnership benefits the Jewish community and the community at large,” says Sandra Porter Leon, JCC president. “I’m looking forward to this continued and wonderful collaboration between the JCC and the Virginia Arts Festival.”
Ohef Sholom’s Mitzvah Day: Social action and community n the morning of Sunday, April 29, Ohef Sholom Temple’s sixth annual Mitzvah Day demonstrated tikkun olam with an emphasis on the environment, as well as helping those less fortunate. Its “Ohef Goes Green” theme helped kick off the efforts of the newest temple committee, OST Green Initiative, which will keep members apprised of their charge as stewards of Religious school students play with Parker from the SPCA. natural resources. In the space of just a few hours, the Redgate Ave. entrance to Ohef Sholom was transformed with a bed of native plants; 30 casseroles were prepared for the homework and meals program of For Kids; 100 lunch bags were packed for the needy who rely on GAM (Ghent Area Ministries) for emergency supplies; Religious School students built oyster cages for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, made birdhouses and bird feeders, explored their creativity with ecocrafts, picked up 16 bags of trash in the Children from OST Religious school work on eco crafts. neighborhood, and learned about the delicate eco-systems in this region. Congregants gave blood, learned about recycling, helped Foundation. Congregants learned numerwith projects and bought locally grown ous ways they could “recycle, reuse and plants and produce from an organic farmer. reduce.” They donated eyeglasses for As newly installed chair of the OST the Lions Club, canned goods for the Caring Committee, Inger Friedman unwit- Foodbank, and pet supplies for the SPCA; tingly took on the task of organizing the and they brought in plastic bags and small annual social action extravaganza. When electronics for recycling. no one stepped forward to chair the event, The generosity of Ohef Sholom’s Men’s she embraced the challenge. Friedman and Club and Sisterhood, and donations from her co-chair, Barbara Johnson, along with individuals, made many of the projects Mitzvah Day veteran Sharon Ross, then put possible. in countless hours in preparation, planMitzvah Day brought OST members of ning and implementation. They inspired a all ages together in a common cause and record number of volunteers, boosted by demonstrated that working together as a the enthusiastic and generous participation community can make a difference. of many from Temple Sinai. Educational displays and videos from numerous community organizations were present, including TFC recycling, Bev Sell representing the Five Points Community Farm Market, the Virginia Aquarium’s stranding team, Virginia Master Naturalists, Tidewater Animal Rescue and Barbara Dudley, Ingeresa Friedman, co-chair Mitzvah Day, Sharon Ross, Chesapeake Bay co-chair Mitzvah Day, Barbara Johnson and Marsha Moody.
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jewishnewsva.org | May 28, 2012 | Jewish News | 19
Marilyn and Marvin Simon Family Legacy Society Tribute Dinner—A great success by Tanya Marten, marketing manager, Tidewater Jewish Foundation
n May 2, the Tidewater Jewish Foundation hosted its biennial Simon Family Legacy Society tribute dinner at the Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus of the Tidewater Jewish Community. With more than 70 in attendance, comprised of current members, affiliate leadership and their families, 17 new members were inducted into the Society. The Simon Family Legacy Society was formed in 2004 and hosted its first tribute event the same year. When first approached to become the namesakes for this Society, Marvin and Marilyn Simon hardly thought for more than a few days before graciously accepting the honor. The Simons played an active role in establishing the JCC on Newport Avenue, continuing their leadership role through the site selection for the current Campus, and making one of the largest gifts to underwrite its construction. Today, total membership in the Simon Family Legacy Society stands strong at approximately 180 individuals. The Society recognizes all levels of endowment giving and is inclusive of endowment giving across all of TJF’s affiliates. TJF recognizes deferred and planned gifts, as well as cash gifts conforming to its desire to be inclusive and realizing that each person’s interests, capacity and capability to give differs. Of utmost importance is each person’s commitment to the continuity and strength of Tidewater’s Jewish community. Donors are first engaged by invitation to memorialize their participation and are
asked to share their commitment to the Jewish community by writing a meaningful statement of support that is chronicled in the Endowment Book of Life display located in the Cardo area of the Campus. Although many individuals were recognized at the dinner, some qualifying donors declined to be publicly acknowledged with regard to the Society. TJF respects each and every donor and acknowledges their gift in accord with the donor’s wishes. New members of the Society include: Jody Balaban, Jack Barr, Marlene and Melvin* Bass, Jon and Susan Becker, Leonard and Eleanor Brooke, Leslie H. Friedman, William and Jeri Jo Halprin, Helen G. Gifford*, Jason and Denise Hoffman, Warren and Mimi Karesh, Sandra Lefcoe, Jonathan and Jeri Jo and Bill Halprin. Alyssa Muhlendorf, Philip S. Rovner and Joanne Batson, Bill and Ruby Schwarzschild, Miriam Seeherman and Betty and Henry* Zetlin. Commander Hal Sacks, executive director emeritus, and Philip Rovner, president, thanked all members of the Society for their generous contributions to the Dr. Leon Leach, daughter Sharon and Mrs. Selma Leach.
Jay and Marsha Wilks and Bootsie Goldmeir
Jonathan and Alyssa Muhlendorf.
community and welcomed new members with Simon Family Legacy Society recognition gifts created in Israel. Kim Simon Fink spoke on behalf of the Simon family. With humor, she conveyed the importance of the Simon Family Legacy Society and the meaningful experience of having the
20 | Jewish News | May 28, 2012 | jewishnewsva.org
Philip S. Rovner and Joanne Batson.
Richard and Laure Saunders, and Connie Jacobson and Hon. Marc Jacobson.
Society named for her family. She also mentioned how her parents’ legacy prompted she and her husband to make a gift. In closing, Philip Rovner remarked, “We remember Marvin in our hearts and thoughts and honor all the Simon family members for their continued support of our
Jewish community”. For more information on the Simon Family Legacy Society, contact Shelby Tudor or Philip S. Rovner at 965-6111 at the Tidewater Jewish Foundation. *of blessed memory
Students collaborate in building Israel Festival’s ‘Western Wall’
everal groups of students worked together to build a replica of the Western Wall in Jerusalem for the Simon Family JCC’s Israel Festival. Students from Toras Chaim, JCC Kids Connection, Strelitz Early Childhood Center and Hebrew Academy of Tidewater constructed ‘brick stones’ from shoeboxes and brown paper. Strelitz and Hebrew Academy of Tidewater students later participated in the actual building of the ‘Wall.’ During Israel Festival, BINA students
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oversaw more ‘bricks’ being laid, as well as prayers inserted into the ‘Wall’ by festival attendees. The prayers will be delivered to the real Western Wall this summer by college students on a Birthright trip. “It was lovely to be able to be a part of a community endeavor in celebration of our beloved homeland,” says Alene Kaufman, director of Strelitz Early Childhood Center.
YAD’s Hands on Tidewater group volunteers at the JFS Run Roll and Stroll by Seth Fleishman, past chair of YAD and Hands on Tidewater
ands on Tidewater continued one of its longest running annual traditions of sending a delegation of volunteers for Jewish Family Service’s Run, Roll or Stroll Race at the Virginia Beach Boardwalk on Sunday, May 6. Hands on Tidewater is the community service/ social action branch of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Young Adult Division.
Hands on Tidewater managed the two water stations, providing water for the several hundred runners. Hands on Tidewater provided more volunteers than any other group or agency. The team of volunteers who braved the coldest weather and most brutal wind of any of the years included: Jeff Cooper, Leah and Scott Flax, Nataly and Seth Fleishman, Aaron Goldmeier, Jennifer Groves, Jennie Hurwitz, Anna and David Jancewicz, Joy Rosenblatt, Alexandra and Ben Simon, Aaron and Rachel Shames and Hallie and Josh Weinstein For YAD, it was a pleasure to help JFS with their major fundraiser. The group looks forward to returning next year, because not only were they able to help JFS, they all had a great time.
Ben Simon, Jen Groves, Aaron Goldmeier, Jennie Hurwitz, Joy Rosenblatt, and Alexandra Simon. jewishnewsva.org | May 28, 2012 | Jewish News | 21
Jewish Council for Public Affairs Annual Plenum 2012 in Detroit by Robin Mancoll and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs
n May 5 I headed to Detroit for the annual Plenum of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, otherwise known as the JCPA, the Community Relations Council’s umbrella organization. The JCPA, the public affairs arm of the organized Jewish community, serves as the national coordinating and advisory body for the 14 national and 125 local agencies comprising the field of Jewish community relations, to which Tidewater belongs. Joining with hundreds of Jewish activists to discuss current and critical issues facing Jews and Israel today, I heard from national experts on how we can be involved in the issues most important to our community. The first full day of the Plenum offered so many opportunities for education and understanding that I had a hard time choosing which sessions to attend. I started with a workshop on Israel advocacy on campus titled “A Burning Campus? Rethinking Israel Advocacy at America’s Colleges and Universities.” The discussion focused on how the organized Jewish community responds to both pro and anti-Israel activity taking place on campuses. The panel shared real world experience and best practices for advocating for Israel on campus. Out of 4,000 schools of higher learning in the United States, only about 150 even have a debate about the affairs of the Middle East. Bottom line… the sky ISN’T falling! The afternoon started with a Plenary (an all Plenum attendee session) where we explored the Jewish stake in private and public education, balancing community building with our concern for the separation of church and state. The afternoon forum I attended was “Israel’s Domestic Challenges: The American Jewish Community’s Stake” and included a panel discussion with Nancy Kaufman, executive director of the National Council for Jewish Women and Rabbi Doug Kahn, executive director of the San Francisco JCRC. The session explored the status of issues facing Israel today and the appropriate role of the organized American Jewish community in responding to them. Issues such as the growing socio-economic gap that spawned mass protests throughout Israel, gender discrimination and segregation and more were discussed.
In the keynote address, Ambassador Michael Oren offered his insights about Israel’s challenges, the U.S-Israel relationship and community based Israel advocacy. To be pro-Israel today he said, means someone who is “committed to ensuring that the world will never again know a life without the Jewish state. A pro-Israel person sees controversy and has strong opinions on it [but also] appreciates the immense threats facing Israel every day.” He said, “Israel has the right to defend itself and only Israel, as a sovereign state, knows how to best defend its citizens.” I was sitting in the front row, hanging on his every word. If you’re interested in reading his full speech, let me know and I’ll be glad to send it to you. Inspiring and thought provoking as he always is, it’s worth taking the time to read. Monday morning at the Plenum we were joined by two of Michigan’s legislators, Senator Debbie Stabenow and Representative Mike Rogers, for a discussion about the challenges currently facing our nation and a vision for the future. As chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Senator Stabenow spoke about this critical moment in time for America, and reminded us that “We have never had a more important time for Tikkin Olam.” Senator Stabenow stressed the importance of the 16 million jobs provided by the American agricultural industry as well as the need to preserve the most vibrant and stable food system in the world. She also insisted that the Farm Bill reauthorization preserve the billions of dollars that provide nutrition assistance to low income families, the disabled, and senior citizens. She recognized the importance of our value system and our willingness to work together to move our country forward. Former FBI agent and chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Mike Rogers of the 8th Congressional district of Michigan shared his expertise on international affairs and global terrorism. Through his leadership on the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Rogers said he fights everyday for the safety and well being of Americans here and around the world by responding to threats like nuclear weaponry and cyber espionage. Representative Rogers sent a strong message to the attendees about America’s ability to remain a strong world leader and convince others not to develop nuclear weapons. He reminded us that a nuclear Iran isn’t worth the threat that it poses to the world. The
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only thing that can convince Iran to abandon their nuclear program, said Rogers, was a clear military commitment from the United States. Another exciting plenary included JCPA President Steve Gutow in a moderated conversation with Rev. Dr. Joel Hunter, an internationally respected evangelical leader and Prof. Amy Jill Levine, a ‘self-described Yankee Jewish feminist’ expert in JewishChristian relations, for a conversation about the relationship between Evangelical Christians and Jews. “There is this mythology in both Jewish and Evangelical communities that we are both so different and divided. I don’t believe this is true,” said Gutow. Demonstrating the similarities between Jews and Evangelicals, Prof. Levine explained that contention between the two communities is based on a mutual misunderstanding: “We have trouble engaging with Evangelicals because we don’t know how to begin the conversation and what questions to ask.” Evangelicals believe in the importance of issues such as justice, poverty, and the environment. Through a communal problem-solving approach, the Jewish community and Evangelicals can come together to tackle these issues and simultaneously learn about the other’s theology and beliefs. Rev. Dr. Hunter believes that these mutual concerns will bring us closer: ‘My excitement of our future together is that we have the same ‘heart’ and through these issues, a way to build a meaningful, helpful relationship.’ On the topic of Israel, Gutow noted that Evangelicals seem to carry both a love of the Jewish state as well and a simultaneous concern for to Palestinian rights. Monday also included some interesting choices for workshops and forums. I attended a workshop titled, “Engaging Our Young Adults” which included some amazing success stories from across the nation—one was presented by former local, Campe Goodman, now living in Boston. Goodman shared information about the work of the Boston CRC. He also received a JCPA award for the program, which offers social justice volunteer opportunities for Young Adults and engages them in CRC work from there. Following that energizing workshop, I attended a forum, “Election Year Engagement: Can Campaigns, Money, and Civility Coexist?” With the 2012 elections upon us, Ron Kampeas, JTA Washington Bureau Chief, Richard Foltin, director of National and Legislative Affairs at the
American Jewish Committee, and Rabbi Amy Eilberg, discussed Judaism’s approach to civility and its role in this year’s campaign. This engaging session left the attendees talking about the issue on Rep. Mike Rogers, MI (R) at JCPA Plenum the absence of relationships and our hopes that candidates can go back to actually talking with each other. None of the panelists were overly optimistic. Together with accomplished Jewish communal professionals like Ruth Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Messinger, presi- MI (D) at JCPA Plenum dent of American Jewish World Service, John Ruskay, CEO of the UJA-NY Federation, and young and innovative Jewish activists from Detroit, we discussed inspiring the next generation of Jewish youth to become tomorrow’s leaders. They left us with the question, “Are we too engaged in pursuing particularistic Jewish concerns to engage that part of the Jewish community, particularly the young, who have a broad view of social justice as part of our historic mandate of what it means to be Jewish?“ It will be on my mind as we look ahead to the work of the CRC going forward. That night we were treated to the Chair’s Awards Dinner at the Detroit Institute of Arts, a beautiful museum opened just for us. The evening’s highlight was the acceptance speech by Detroit Mayor, Dave Bing of the Chairs’ Tikkun Olam Award. A retired American professional basketball player who played 12 seasons in the National Basketball Association, primarily for the Detroit Pistons and a seven-time All-Star, he founded the Bing Group, one of the largest steel companies in Michigan and went on to become mayor of a city in turmoil. His inspiring words were honestly, my favorite of the Plenum, reminding me that with commitment and follow through, one person can make a difference. Tuesday began with a session for CRC directors and chairs. Discussion focused on board development and leadership cultivation and was unfortunately cut short to
book reviews allow us to attend the next program. The ideas that were shared and connections made will allow for further discussion and more great ideas in our community. Following that session, Starfish Family Services lead a session with a poverty simulation. Attendees were given roles representative of the real struggles for many Americans. Going through their everyday tasks, we learned about the challenges facing millions, including going hungry while waiting in line for SNAP benefits and transportation to work. It was described as overwhelming, eye-opening, and consuming, not just by me but by colleagues and lay leaders. Making the exercise more challenging—and true to life—was how many of us were unfamiliar with the resources and support available us. To end the Plenum, Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, credited President Barak Obama for the values underlying his proposed federal budget and his commitment to catalyze economic growth. Signed just days after his inauguration, Sperling said history will view President Obama’s recovery legislation as one of the “quickest and boldest” responses to an economic crisis in American history. Sperling continued by noting that compared to the last period after a recession, at this point in our current recovery, 2.5 million more jobs have been created. Sperling described the importance of job growth and the President’s emphasis on infrastructure. The group with the single highest level of unemployment is not African-Americans or Hispanic Americans, but construction workers. It was an informative presentation. I was lucky enough to stay on for CRC Directors meetings that took place after the lay leaders left, along with about 30 of my colleagues. I found the time educational and inspiring and it left me motivated to do more in our community, for our community. I’m really lucky to have so many thoughtful, intelligent and dedicated colleagues who share a love for the Jewish Community Relations Council as I do. I am proud and thankful to have represented Tidewater at the JCPA Plenum and I encourage you to consider attending with me, the next JCPA Plenum taking place in Washington, D.C. March 9-12, 2013. Contact me (Rmancoll@ ujft.org) to hear more about my trip and/ or the work the Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater is doing.
The first Jewish CNO Admiral Boorda’s Navy Malcolm Steinberg Infinity,2011 260 pages, $15.95 (paper) ISBN: 0-7414-6848-4 Admiral Jeremy Michael Hal Sacks (“Mike”) Boorda held the highest post in the United States Navy, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO). A high school dropout, Mike Boorda’s enlistment in the Navy as a 16-year-old seaman recruit and his eventual achievement of top rank is a great American story. His death by suicide at the age of 57 is an American tragedy. Never before had a former enlisted man, a “mustang officer,” achieved the position of CNO. Admiral Boorda was Jewish; never before had a Jew achieved the position of CNO. Michael Steinberg, a retired civil engineer who served in the Navy as an enlisted man, found the story of Mike Boorda engaging. He became interested in the Navy of that era, a Navy that promoted a Jew to the rank of CNO. Steinberg’s technical background is reflected in the thoroughness of his research and his dogged pursuit of commentary by Boorda’s seniors, juniors and peers. Therein lies both the strength and weakness of Steinberg’s book. Readers who served in the Navy during the four decades of Boorda’s service may cringe a bit when Steinberg stumbles over some minutiae of Navy practice or parlance. But they’re more than likely to enjoy the detailed listing of ships, staffs, operations and issues Steinberg assiduously provides. Conversely, general readers may be overwhelmed at times by the Navy jargon and organizational maze through which the author navigates. Admiral Boorda was considered an innovator in a direct line from two of his most famous CNO predecessors, Admiral Arleigh (“31 Knot”) Burke and Admiral Elmo Zumwalt. It is said that Burke and Zumwalt brought the Navy into the 20th century and Boorda prepared it for the 21st. Four issues weighed sorely on Mike Boorda while he was CNO and, collectively, are thought to have contributed to his suicide. First was the controversy over his display of the “Combat V” on one of his decorations (an indication that the decoration was awarded for actual combat). Second was the lingering impact of the infamous “Tail Hook” incident amid the growing matter of sexual harassment in a “new” Navy that put women on ships at sea. Third were budgetary issues and, finally, Boorda had to deal with a cheating scandal
at the Naval Academy and the improper behavior (of a non-sexual nature) of several senior officers, including admirals. The “Combat V” matter had supposedly been resolved (Boorda was entitled to wear it but had not been officially authorized to do so). A year earlier he had removed the “V” from his Vietnam decoration. The “Tail Hook” humiliation, in which a reunion of fighter pilots in Las Vegas culminated in a series of drunken parties at which female officers were groped and molested, just wouldn’t go away. In the aftermath of the scandal, CNO Admiral Frank B. Kelso, had been forced to retire (followed by Boorda’s elevation to that office) and numerous investigations of harassment and rape were ongoing, including several at the Naval Academy. But perhaps the final straw was a blistering condemnation of Boorda’s leadership by former Secretary of the Navy, now Virginia Senator Jim Webb. Mike Boorda was loved and respected by the men and women he commanded. Politicians admired him as a military man who gave straight answers and made no attempt at cover ups. Neither Boorda’s peers nor personal friends (including some Norfolkians) suspected at any time that he was contemplating taking his own life. In fact, on the morning of his death he made lunch appointments for the following week. That he chose to drive himself home from the Pentagon to his quarters at the Navy Yard was not particularly unusual. If Mike Boorda suffered from clinical depression, it was not publicly known. When an active duty military officer of Boorda’s era needed psychological assistance, the stigma was so great that he would have had to find help outside the service. Mike Boorda was a Bar Mitzvah; a Star of David is carved on his tombstone at Arlington National Cemetery. However, his wife was not Jewish and his children were raised in the Christian faith. Many of his closest associates were not aware that he was Jewish. Peripheral as he may have been to the organized Jewish community, Boorda’s genuine consideration for lower ranks and for minority officers and sailors reflect the values of his people. We learn repeatedly where Mike Boorda was, what he did, and with whom he did it. However, aside from a few speeches and articles, we don’t hear from Admiral Boorda himself. If any trove of the Admiral’s private papers or letters actually exists, Steinberg was apparently not privy to them. The greatest shortcoming of Admiral Boorda’s Navy is the absence of Mike Boorda.
Based on real events Cry of the Giraffe Judie Oron Annick Press, 2010, 193 pages, $12.95(paper) ISBN: 986-1-55451-271-3 Cry of the Giraffe is a novel about an Ethiopian Jewish (Beta Israel) family written primarily for young adults. Older adults, however, will find it to be a most rewarding read. The author, Judie Oren, is a journalist who risked her life rescuing an Ethiopian “orphan of circumstance,” as children separated from their loved ones are dubbed. The story begins with 13-year-old Wuditu and her family, under increasing dangers from the Marxist dictator, Mengistu and their Jew-hating neighbors, attempting an arduous trek to Sudan in anticipation of transport to Israel. Labeled “felasha” or outcast because of their Jewish faith, the family survived bombing enroute and narrowly escaped the fate of more than 4,000 refugees who perished during the trip. Operation Moses, a covert maneuver that managed to transport more than 8,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel in 1984/1985, until Arab countries pressured Sudan to halt the airlift, rescued all of Wuditu’s family—except Wuditu herself. She was rounded up with scores of others and returned to the Ethiopian border. What follows is Wuditu’s story of humiliation, fear and despair as she struggles to conceal her identity as Jew in order to survive, eaking out a bare subsistence in virtual slavery. Wuditu inherited her long delicate neck from her mother; children would tease her and call her the girl with a neck like a giraffe. “Whatever happens,” her mother told her, “remember the giraffe—she has a long neck and she’s beautiful. Even when she’s sad or frightened, she holds her head up and she doesn’t cry—not even when life seems too hard to bear.” Wuditu would recall these words. Beaten, raped, starved, enslaved and deathly ill, she dreamed of reunion with her family and continued to hope for a way of reaching them. At the end, literally at death’s door, about to be stoned to death for being a Jew, she is “saved” by the author. Rescued, and miraculously brought to Israel as part of Operation Solomon which amazingly airlifted 14,000 Beta Israel to Israel in one weekend in 1991. Written mostly in the first person through Wuditu’s eyes, Cry of the Giraffe, based on real events, mirrors the exodus of thousands of Ethiopian Jews. —Hal Sacks is a retired Jewish communal worker who has reviewed books for Jewish News for more than 27 years.
jewishnewsva.org | May 28, 2012 | Jewish News | 23
what’s happening Israeli film at Naro launches 20th anniversary of Film Festival
Melton prepares to graduate 10th class Monday, June 4, 7pm
Sunday, June 10, 7:15 pm
s a prelude to the Simon Family JCC’s 20th anniversary of the Virginia Festival of Jewish Film, Presented by Alma* and Howard Laderberg, Footnote will be shown at the Naro Expanded Cinema. Footnote is a 2011 Israeli drama written and directed by Joseph Cedar, starring Shlomo Bar’aba and Lior Ashkenazi. The film won the Best Screenplay Award at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, in addition to nine prizes at the 2011 Israeli Ophir Awards, becoming Israel’s entry for the 84th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film. In January, the film was named as one of the nine shortlisted entries for the Oscars and was nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Foreign Film. The plot centers on a father and son who both work as professors in the Talmudic
Research department of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The father’s goal is to be recognized by being awarded the Israel Prize in his field. He is repeatedly disappointed each year when he does not win. His stubborn nature and lack of recognition have made him largely bitter and anti-social, and envious of his son’s popularity. Which one will win the coveted Israel prize, and how will they handle it? Rotten Tomatoes rates the film at 91%. The film will be shown one time. $9 for adults, $6.50 for Senior Citizens and children 12 and under, and Naro ticket books are accepted. Following the movie, a Q & A discussion with Rabbis Jeff Arnowitz, Michael Panitz and Israel Zoberman will take place. Go to NaroCinema.com for more information, or call 625-6276.
Jewish Family Service of Tidewater invites the community to its 61st Annual Meeting
Tuesday, June 12, 7:00 PM Fleder Multi-Purpose Room, Simon Family JCC Please join us for the installation of Dr. Marcia Samuels as President and the installation of the 2012-2014 Executive Committee and new board members. We will also be recognizing the service of outgoing board members. A dessert reception will follow.
Call 321-2222 to RSVP. 24 | Jewish News | May 28, 2012 | jewishnewsva.org
by Leslie Shroyer
he Florence Melton Adult Mini-School at the Simon Family Jewish Community Center is preparing to graduate its 10th class. This year’s class of 13 has three physicians, creating lively and more complex discussions about issues Melton classes tackle, especially during the second year of study in the Ethics Curriculum. Marty Snyder, md; Roberto Luna, md and Stanley Smith, md are the three area physicians who are in this year’s graduating class. All three agree that their background as physicians led to in-depth discussion from the scientific viewpoint pertaining to Jewish ethics, organ donation and end of life issues. Snyder, a Naval surgeon and captain, has traveled the globe during his career. Persuaded to become a student in the Melton Mini-School by his wife Judi (an avid supporter and graduate of the Mini-School), Snyder has no regrets. As a youth, his family affiliated with Judaism’s Conservative movement. Snyder realized he had forgotten some of what he learned as a child, and through Melton classes, reconnected with his religion and became inspired. “The different ages and levels of religion represented by members of the class allowed us to come to grips with certain ethical questions and other issues that just one person might not have simple answers or solutions to offer,” says Snyder. “Melton allowed us to look not only at the ancient interpretation of how to handle these issues, but also to get the more contemporary opinions of rabbis currently writing about them,” he says. Especially in the second year, when the group became like “family,” issues often centered around ethics and Jewish history. “Having three doctors in the class definitely made for interesting discussions,” Snyder says. Luna, a child and adolescent psychiatrist, is originally from Mexico City. Raised a Catholic, he converted to Judaism when he married his wife, Rachelle. When their daughter Nicole became a Reform Rabbi, Luna decided to take Melton classes to expand his knowledge of Jewish concepts both as a father and as a psychiatrist.
Drs. Marty Snyder, Roberto Luna and Stanley Smith.
“By having three physicians in one class, we spent a lot of time discussing issues as they pertained to our own personal experiences,” Luna says. “I think the diversity among our medical backgrounds allowed for a diversity of thoughts which made for fascinating discussions.” Smith, a nephrologist, grew up in an Orthodox household in Philadelphia. He decided to take the Melton class with his wife Helene, because other than attending Congregation Beth El, he wanted to learn more about the history behind “why we do what we do instead of just doing it.” Many of the whys were explained during the first year of Melton. Smith says he especially enjoyed the second year because the discussions in class helped him with daily decisions he makes in his field. “I deal with issues of ventilators, dialysis and to what degree we make the decision to keep people alive if they are dependent on machines. The second year discussions, with everyone’s contribution and input, really made me think about how to resolve of these major issues.” “In Pirke Avot, Ethics of the Fathers, it says ‘Who is wise? Someone who learns from every person.’ This was my experience from the group discussions we enjoyed during the Melton classes,” says Luna. Snyder’s hectic schedule allows him little time for anything extra-curricular. “I was often tired at the end of day,” he says, “but never once did I regret coming to a Melton class.” The community is invited to attend the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School 10th Graduation at the Simon Family JCC. For more information, call Miriam Brunn Ruberg 321-2328.
Simon Family JCC Seniors Club Wednesday June 20, 12 noon Entertainers will be three singers and one who also plays the piano. They will all sing a mix of Broadway music from the ’30s and ’40s. If interested in becoming a member of the Seniors Club, call Wayne Gordon at 426-3297.
what’s happening Simon Family JCC
The Face of the Ghetto
Stop cyber-bullying event for young children
Exhibit at Old Dominion University Perry Library
Sunday, June 10, 12:30–3 pm by Leslie Shroyer
re you afraid of the influence of Facebook and other forms of social media on your child? Are you a grandparent who sees your grandchild rarely reading books and more often on the computer or texting? Most children begin using various forms of social media to communicate with their friends as early as elementary school. While Facebook is not legal for those under 13, there is no way of knowing the age of its youngest users. Preteens and younger children are too often either victims of “cyber bullying” or guilty of spreading unnecessary gossip through forms of social media. The Simon Family JCC’s Kids Connection Before and After School Program will present a program to learn how to combat this problem. The program will begin with lunch for the parents and children (kindergarten through fifth grade), followed by activities for the children, while parents have an open and frank discussion about cyber bullying with Jill Brown, founder and CEO of ItsMyLocker.com, an online network where tweens can socialize safely. Brown, a highly regarded and wellknown internet safety expert, is also the founder and CEO of Generation Text Online, a company that offers a variety of programs to help protect students from bullying. Her view is tried and proven to help schools deal with bullying via social media, cell phones and YouTube. The key to her message is not to tell kids to stop using the internet and social media, but rather, to assume they will actively engage in it, and instruct them to do so safely, thinking about the consequences of posting the wrong comment or picture. “I’d like to reach out to every child all over the country and show them what’s appropriate and inappropriate, but ultimately I want to educate parents as to what they can do to keep their kids safe,” she says. Brown developed ItsMy Locker.com as a stepping-stone to Facebook for middle schoolers. “It was created to give kids a chance to go online safely and actually do good work through their athletic group, religious group or other affiliation,” she says. Facebook, which many children engage in at a young age, gives them no
guidance as to how to behave. Children go on this site, set up a page, and sometimes reveal too much about themselves. “They make themselves Jill Brown vulnerable to potential bullying by being exposed to things that are not age appropriate,” says Brown. Parents need to be involved in the early years, gradually building trust in their children to behave in an age appropriate way. “We need to tell young children that if they are going online, we have a rule of checking up on them,” Brown says, advising parents to make sure their child is divulging only limited or appropriate information online. As they get older, children will develop the skills to make their own online, texting and other social media decisions. “The idea of wearing a helmet or seat belt is to be safe while doing that activity. By using ItsMyLocker or monitoring their text messages and Facebook, parents will have the opportunity to be privy to the information, therefore enabling them to help their kids if they need help.” Prior to founding ItsMyLocker, Brown co-founded Furniture Assist, a nonprofit foundation that collects and distributes used furniture to needy families. In 2008, she and Furniture Assist secured 2,727 donors, doubling the previous year’s donations and resulting in the distribution of just under $200,000 worth of furniture. Over the past 13 years, Brown has balanced a career of consulting, leadership, management and motherhood. She was featured on NBC’s Today Show, for being a “Supermom” in 2005. She has served on the boards of Presbyterian Church of Westfield, N.J. Mission Commission, Family Life Department of Westfield Area YMCA, and Citizens Advisory Committee for Enrollment for the Westfield Board of Education. The Prevent Cyber Bullying event is free and open to the community. Held at the Simon Family JCC, a light lunch will be served. For more information and to RSVP, call 321-2338.
Through June 28
s part of Holocaust remembrance activities, “The Face of the Ghetto” exhibition in Norfolk is a collaboration of the Institute for Jewish Studies and Interfaith Understanding, College of Arts and Letters; the Federal Republic of Germany; and the Old Dominion University Libraries. During World War II, the German Nazis established the second largest ghetto for Jews in the occupied Polish city of Łód´z, renamed Litzmannstadt by the German occupants. In April 1940, more than 160,000 Jews from the Warthegau region were crowded into the Litzmannstadt Ghetto which consisted of an area of 4.14 square kilometers. Later, 20,000 Jews from the German Reich, Prague and Luxembourg were deported to Litzmannstadt. More than 5,000 Roma also were incarcerated there in 1941. As a result of the abominable conditions, more than 43,000 people died in the Litzmannstadt Ghetto. In 1942, tens of thousands of Jews with thousands of children among them were deported and killed in the Kulmhof extermination camp. The ghetto was dissolved in August 1944, and all but a handful of the remaining inhabitants were killed in the Auschwitz extermination camp. Professional Jewish photographers were instructed by the Jewish council of the Litzmannstadt Ghetto to photograph the daily life and work. They took pictures of children playing, working and eating and also produced touching portraits. The pictures were intended to show a functioning community and testify to the utility of Jewish workers for the German economy. A collection of 12,000 contact prints by these Jewish photographers in the Litzmannstadt Ghetto is preserved in the Łód State Archive. For this exhibition, 50 prints were selected and enlarged. Quotations from survivor reports and from the chronicle of the ghetto accompany each photograph. A short overview of the ghetto’s history, a description of the photography as an historic source and information about the photographers provide an introduction into the exhibition. The exhibition is composed and provided by the Topography of Terror Foundation in Berlin, Germany and is supported by the Foreign Office, Federal Republic of Germany. The exhibition was first shown in the United States at the
United Nations in New York City, and is currently on tour. A Web exhibit is available at http://www. lib.odu.edu/exhibits/faceghetto/index.htm
Brith Sholom to hold memorial service and Pot Luck dinner Sunday, June 3, 11am; Sunday, June 10, 6pm Cantor Elihu Flax will officiate at Brith Sholom’s first Annual Memorial Service on June 3. Following the Yizkor service, brunch will take place. The Pot Luck dinner is scheduled for Sunday, June 10. Brith Sholom will provide entrees: grilled chicken or vegetarian pasta. A dish serves as admission. RSVP to Irene Weintrob at 857-7172. For further information, call Dale at 461-1150.
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Fridays, June through August Farmers Market returns to the Simon Family JCC! Fresh locally grown produce and even baked goods. The best place to shop produce this summer is right outside the JCC. 9am-1 pm
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Heidi and Rich Litner of Dunwoody, Ga. on the birth of Estee Miriam Litner. She was born 18.75 inches and weighing 6 lbs., 13 oz. Welcoming her arrival is her proud sister, Sadie, as well as grandparents Philip Rovner and Joanne Batson; Barry and Myong Litner of Haverhill, Mass.; Frances Litner of Margate, Fla.; Barbara Rovner of
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Jewish flavor seasoned Sendak’s works, entertaining children and adults by Jason Miller
WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. (JTA)—A few months after my first child was born, I went to a bookstore to buy a few books that I thought needed to be on the bookshelf of my new baby’s nursery. Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are was one of those books. A childhood favorite of mine, I knew the day would come when I would read it to my son as part of our bedtime ritual. I immediately recalled that bookstore visit when I heard the news that Sendak had died Tuesday, May 8 from complications of a stroke. He was 83. Much has been written about Sendak’s imagination and his uncanny ability to create characters to whom children can relate. Many of the characters in his books were based on the Torah stories that his father told him as a child. Sendak has said that he embellished those stories to make them more interesting for children. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I saw the Jewish flavor that peppers Sendak’s works. The characters in his most well-known children’s story are based on his old Jewish relatives. In some of his stories, Yiddish words interspersed with his poetic English. Where the Wild Things Are is even based on the Yiddish vilde chaya (wild beast), which Jewish parents for generations have used to describe rambunctious children. Some of Sendak’s stories, including In the Night Kitchen, speak to his own fears of the
Holocaust. His immigrant parents lost most of their family members in the Holocaust and reminded him that he would have had many more cousins were it not for the Nazis. Having learned that Sendak was influenced by his father’s nightly bedtime stories drawn from the Torah, I have found real value and meaning in reading Sendak’s books to my own children at bedtime. His children’s stories are my kids’ most requested bedtime books. Over the years, I’ve read Where the Wild Things Are to my children many times. In fact, I recently read it to them in Hebrew. Just a week ago, my daughter brought home a Hebrew version of Sendak’s masterpiece. His brilliance comes through no matter the language. Turning the pages of the Hebrew translation, I began to laugh as I recalled the author’s uproarious appearance on The Colbert Report earlier this year. Even at 83, Sendak was still entertaining both children and their parents. His memorable illustrations and ability to turn scary monsters into lovable friends will live on into future generations, and I look forward to the day when my own children will read the stories of Sendak’s wonderful imagination to my grandchildren. —Rabbi Jason Miller, an entrepreneur, blogger and social media expert, is president of Michigan-based Access Computer Technology. He blogs at http://blog.rabbijason.com and is on Twitter @rabbijason.
One-minute video calls for moment of silence at Olympics (JTA)—Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon has created a one-minute video in the campaign to have the Munich 11 remembered at this summer’s Olympic Games in London. The video, part of the appeal that Israel is calling Just One Minute, asks the International Olympic Committee to have a minute of silence in memory for the Israeli athletes and coaches slain at the 1972 Munich Games by the the Palestinian terrorist group Black September. “This video is one minute long, the same amount of time we are asking the International Olympic Committee to stop and remember, contemplate and to send a message that the international sporting community will stand against hatred and violence,” Ayalon says in the video.
The IOC rejected an official letter sent from Ayalon asking that the London Games open with the moment of silence honoring the 11 Israelis. In turning down the request, IOC President Jacques Rogge wrote in a letter dated May 15 that “The IOC has officially paid tribute to the memory of the athletes on several occasions. Within the Olympic family, the memory of the victims of the terrible massacre in Munich in 1972 will never fade away.” The Israel National Olympic Committee will hold its own memorial ceremony during the Games, as it has at every Olympics. Rogge pledged that IOC representatives would attend the ceremony. Israel has regularly requested a moment of silence at the Olympics; the IOC has consistently turned down that proposal.
28 | Jewish News | May 28, 2012 | jewishnewsva.org
Roslyn Beldin Norfolk—Roslyn G. Beldin, 97, formerly of Norfolk and a resident of The Lynmoore in Richmond, Va., passed away peacefully on May 8, 2012. A native of Norfolk, she was the daughter of the late Isadore Gershon and Rebecca Blinderman Gershon. Mrs. Beldin was preceded in death by her husband of 47 years, Harry, and her eight brothers and sisters. Left to cherish her memory are her daughters Sharon Casale (Anthony) of Richmond and Veronica Perry of Falls Church, Va.; two grandchildren Gay Lynn Carpenter (Robert) of Richmond; and Scott Hodor (Patricia); and their children Emily and Kelly Hodor of Chesapeake, in addition to devoted nieces and nephews in Norfolk and Portsmouth. Mrs. Beldin had been a member of Congregation Beth El in Norfolk and its Sisterhood. She had been a volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House, DePaul Hospital, Jewish Family Service and the American Cancer Society, for which she received many volunteer service awards. A graveside service was held at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Norfolk. Memorial donations to Hospice Community Care of Richmond 10128 W. Broad St., Glen Allen, Va., 23060. Online condolences may be offered to the family at hdoliver.com. Joseph Flum Virginia Beach—Joseph Flum, 85, died May 1, 2012. Mr. Flum was born in New York to the late Henry and Ray Greissman Flum. He was veteran, having served in the U.S. Army during WWII. Mr. Flum was a sales agent for New York Life Insurance Company and retired after 34 years of service. He owned/operated one of the first video stores in Hampton Roads called Video World, was a member of Congregation Beth Chaverim, and of the Norfolk Masonic Lodge #1 for 56 years. Mr. Flum had served as the president of the senior’s current events club at the Jewish Community Center, where he was eager to share his opinion about politics. He was predeceased by his wife, Shirley Flum; sisters, Evelyn Hoffman, Lillian Wintner, Florence Hershberger and Ada Galit; and a brother, Sidney Flum. Left to cherish his memory are daughters, Shelly Stieh and Walt Jones of Boykins, Va., and Adele Langkil of Virginia Beach; grandchildren, Jesse and Stephanie Langkil and Selenia and Ray Boone; and great grandchildren, Skylar and Jada Langkil,
Josh Warren and Alanna Boone. A memorial service was held at Altmeyer Funeral Home with Rabbi Israel Zoberman officiating. Memorial donations can be made to the Norfolk Masonic Lodge #1 or to Congregation Beth Chaverim. Condolences may be expressed to the family at www.altmeyer.com. Claire Weinberg Nesson Norfolk—Claire Weinberg Nesson, of Norfolk, passed away at her residence on Monday, May 7, with her loving family at her side. Claire was a native of Canarsie, Brooklyn, N. Y. She was a member of Congregation Beth El and it’s Sisterhood, and Hadassah. She was a supporter of Old Dominion Universities Sports and their academic programs, and was a long-time volunteer with the Children’s Hospital of The Kings Daughters. She was pre-deceased by her husband Mike Nesson, and her seven siblings. Claire is survived by her devoted family, daughter, Joyce Legum (Bertrum), grandson, Ross Legum (Anne), brother-in-law Yale Nesson (Sandra), and other loving family members. Graveside funeral services were held in Forest Lawn Cemetery, officiated by Rabbi Jeffrey Arnowitz, Rabbi Susan Tendler, and Cantor Gordon Piltch. Donations to Congregation Beth El, CHKD, or the charity of one’s choice. Freda S. Schwartz Norfolk—Freda Sylvia Schwartz, 91, died May 4, 2012 in Virginia Beach. Born in Norfolk she was the daughter of the late Louis Salsbury and Yetta Klavins Salsbury. She was a former member of Temple Israel and Hadassah. She was preceded in death by her husband Erwin I. Schwartz, D.D.S., and her son Arnold J. Schwartz, M.D. Survivors include her daughter, Andrea Schwartz of Virginia Beach, three grandchildren, Kevin Weissman and his wife Jana, Lorin Schwartz and Louis Schwartz. She is also survived by her sister Reba Berman of Annapolis, daughter-in-law Linda Hecht Schwartz and several nieces and nephews. A graveside service was conducted at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Norfolk by Rabbi Michael Panitz. Memorial donations may be made to Beth Sholom Home of Eastern Virginia 6401 Auburn Dr. Virginia Beach, Va. 23464 or to the EVMS Strelitz Diabetes Center Andrews Hall 721 Fairfax Ave. Norfolk, VA 23507. H.D. Oliver Funeral Apartments Norfolk Chapel. Online condolences may be shared with the family at www.hdoliver.com.
obituaries John Sperling Scotch Plains, N.J—John Sperling, 100, passed away on Wednesday, May 9, 2012, at the Center for Hope Hospice, Scotch Plains, N.J. Mr. Sperling was born in Tarnopol, Austria Oct. 12, 1911, to David and Gussie Sperling and came to the United States in 1913. He was a 1933 graduate of Temple University School of Pharmacy. Prior to his retirement in 1985, Mr. Sperling was the owner of Park Drugs of Springfield, N.J. and Park Drugs of Linden, N.J. for 19 years. He was predeceased by his wife, Claire Feldman Sperling. Surviving are his sons Dr. David Sperling and wife Dr. Cherie Sperling of Connecticut; Dr. Richard Sperling of Michigan; Dr. Michael Sperling and wife Phyllis of Virginia; and Mr. Jeffrey Sperling and wife Nancy of New Jersey. He is also survived by his 11 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. A graveside service was held at Temple Sholom Cemetery, Bridgewater, N.J.
Vidal Sassoon, 84, celebrity stylist and anti-Semitism fighter Celebrity hair stylist Vidal Sassoon, who was committed to fighting anti-Semitism and fought in Israel’s War of Independence, died May 9 in his Los Angeles home at 84. He had been battling leukemia. Sassoon, a London native, from the age of three grew up in a Jewish orphanage after his father left the family. He left school at 14 to become an apprentice hairdresser. In 1948, at the age of 20, Sassoon joined the Palmach and fought in Israel’s War for Independence. He opened his first salon in London in 1954, and became known for his modern and low-maintenance hairstyles for women. Sassoon opened more salons in England and then in the United States. In 1973 he debuted a line of shampoos and styling products, gaining fame appearing in TV commercials using the slogan “If you don’t look good, we don’t look good.” In 1982 he established the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. (JTA)
Jenny Bluestein, 60, St. Louis celebrity hair stylist Jenny Bluestein, a one-time nurse who became a prominent hair stylist and TV personality in St. Louis, died April 27 at 60 of a pulmonary embolism. She had opened her cancer battle to the public. “Our viewers loved her,” said Jennifer
Blome, KSDK-TV’s news anchorwoman. “She took great pleasure in helping people be what they wanted to be.” During the late 1980s and 1990s, the salon she operated with her husband, Markus, became a fashionable locale in St. Louis. Celebrity clients included President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore and his wife, Tipper, TV personality Sally Jessy Raphael and singer Patti LaBelle. A year after her husband died in 1994, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The TV station broadcast her surgery and later reconstruction. (JTA)
Tamara Brooks, 70, choral conductor and wife of Theodore Bikel Tamara Brooks, a noted choral conductor, and the wife and musical partner of singeractor Theodore Bikel, died May 19 at 70. Brooks, a Juilliard-trained pianist and conductor, had a distinguished career as a conductor and educator who performed around the world. She was director of choral activities at the New England Conservatory from 1982 to 2000, and also served as president and head of the orchestral program of Philadelphia’s New School of Music. Brooks founded and was the music director of Sequenza, a professional instrumental ensemble devoted to contemporary music. Brooks and Bikel met when they worked on two shows about Jewish music for PBS in 1999 and 2000. Brooks became Bikel’s professional as well as life partner, accompanying him on piano in frequent concert tours in the U.S. and overseas. The couple married in 2008 and celebrated Bikel’s 85th birthday a year later at a gala Carnegie Hall concert. (JTA)
Arno Lustiger, 88, historian and Holocaust survivor Arno Lustiger, a Holocaust survivor and historian who put a spotlight on Jewish resistance against the Nazis, died May 15 in Frankfurt, Germany, at 88. Lustiger’s “greatest contribution for all time” was in “rescuing from oblivion the story of Jewish resistance in the Shoah,” said Dieter Graumann, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany. “Not only did Arno Lustiger contribute greatly to the return of Jewish life in Frankfurt, he also made an important contribution to education and analysis about the darkest chapter of German history through his research on Jewish resistance and on non-Jewish rescuers of Jews during World War II.” Lustiger, a native of Bendzin, sur-
vived six concentration camps, including Auschwitz and Buchenwald. His father and brother were murdered. In April 1945, Lustiger escaped a death march and was rescued by U.S. soldiers. He and his mother and sisters ended up in a displaced persons camp in Frankfurt, where Lustiger became a reporter for a Yiddish newspaper. His plans to go to America fell through, and he ended up staying in Frankfurt, where he helped build the postwar Jewish community as well as a successful women’s fashion business. He sold the business in the 1980s to focus on academic work, for which he received international praise. From 2004 to 2006 he was a guest professor at the Fritz Bauer Institute, the Frankfurt-based study and documentation center on the Holocaust. Among his contributions are works on Jewish volunteers fighting against the fascists in the Spanish Civil War; Stalin’s persecution of Jews; and non-Jewish rescuers as well as Jewish heroism during World War II. In his work on the rescuers and heroism, titled Fighting to the Death, Lustiger vehemently countered the common notion that Jews went “like sheep to the slaughter. (JTA)
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face to face
Dr. Jason K. Wagner: Making time for “doing Jewish” by Karen Lombart
ason Wagner, MD, 27, lights up when he talks about his ketubah that he and his wife Shauna signed at their wedding on Nov. 12, 2011. “It was so cool to explore ketuba. com on the internet and design our own document. We chose the graphics and also the wording.” It came as no surprise to him that he and his wife preferred the same phraseology. Compared to the others, their selection defined their relationship as husband and wife, their goals and vision as a family, as well as their shared desire to be actively involved in the Jewish community. Wagner was raised in a home where family, community, Judaism and academia were of paramount importance. His father, Dr. Alan Wagner, an ophthalmologist, was a driving force behind Jewish Healthcare International (JHI), a global coalition of healthcare professionals who dedicate their time and expertise to communities throughout the world that need services and education to enhance their medical infrastructure. His mother, Jody, a lawyer, was Treasurer of Virginia appointed by Governor Mark Warner in 2002 and Secretary of Finance under Governor Tim Kaine from 2006 to 2008. Since September, 2005, the family has owned and operated Jody’s, a retail and wholesale operation best known for its gourmet flavored popcorns and fudge. Growing up, Friday night included a festive Shabbat dinner with family and friends celebrating together. Two afternoons a week, Wagner attended The United Hebrew School and on weekends, he went to Beth El’s Sunday school. In sixth grade, his Hebrew School class travelled to Washington, D.C. to see the Holocaust Museum. Fascinated with its history, it made a lasting impression because his maternal grandfather was a survivor. Many of his childhood reflections include wonderful memories of his three siblings, Rachael, Lizzie, Max and his cousin, David Laderberg. As a young boy, Wagner spent his summer days attending local JCC camps. When he was eight years old, he went to Timberlane, an overnight camp in Wisconsin where he met many Jewish kids from Illinois and Arizona. On March 28, 1998, Shabbat HaGadol, Wagner celebrated his Bar Mitzvah with one of the longest Torah portions of the year. “I think I finally had my Haftorah
memorized by the time we arrived at Beth El that Saturday morning,” Wagner laughs recalling the seemingly impossible task. Cantor Jacob Tessler assured Wagner that if he could master the necessary skills to lead services and chant from the Torah and Haftorah, he would be able to conquer any future challenge. The cantor’s words still resonate with his student. Wagner participated in the Maccabee games when he was 14 and 15 years old, playing basketball. Held in Cherry Hill, N.J. his first year, he enjoyed the event’s ceremonies and discovered shaved pastrami on rye from a local deli. He loved meeting teenagers from around the world. In ninth grade, his ball skills became an essential tool as a counselor at the JCC summer camps for two basketball sessions. Through high school, Wagner belonged to BBYO-Old Dominion Chapter 370, serving as president twice, and also as vice president of Virginia Council. His involvement required attending conventions and state-wide meetings. Keeping busy, he interned as a medical researcher at the Diabetes Institute during his 10th and 11th grade summers. Upon graduation from Cape Henry in 2003, Wagner travelled to Poland on March of the Living and then went on to meet a Birthright group in Israel. Designed for effect, the 18- to 26-year-olds started out with lots of room on the buses, comfortable hotel accommodations and wonderful food. With each passing day, the conditions worsened for the 25 students. Reaching their last stop, having travelled with their suitcases on their laps in a small bus, cramped, with little food, they arrived at Birkenau, the extermination camp next to Auschwitz. “We felt raw,” relates Wagner. “When we landed in Israel, we were still shaken. Initially, we found it hard to relate to the Birthright kids who were looking to have fun. It took us a few days to feel safe and move from despair to jubilation,” relates Wagner. “After the initial shock, I loved the country and stayed after my Birthright experience ended.” With an open-ended plane ticket back to the States, Wagner’s parents had to call him to come home for Northwestern University’s orientation. Off to college, Wagner began his academic undergraduate education, studying political science and journalism. Preferring problem solving to research, he switched his major to social policy with a concentration in health regulation offered at Northwestern’s
30 | Jewish News | May 28, 2012 | jewishnewsva.org
renowned Annenberg School of Education and Social Policy. Through his college years, he stayed involved with Hillel and became a member of the fraternity ZBT. Involved also with AIPAC as an undergraduate student, Wagner attended the Washington D.C. Policy conference several times. As a volunteer he became an AIPAC consultant for the University of Texas in Austin. In addition, he held the position of president of Students for Israel at Northwestern, setting up conferences on other college campuses. Granted the Governor’s fellowship to study government health policy in Virginia, Wagner lived in Richmond the summer after his graduation. Under the Governor and Secretary of Health, Marilyn Tavenner, he examined issues pertaining to both Medicaid and healthcare workforce shortages. Taking the time to consider career choices, Wagner realized, “he could be a lay policymaker or a lay administrator, but there was no way to be a lay physician.” With his new awareness, he made the decision to go medical school. In order to accumulate the necessary pre-med credits, Wagner entered a one year accelerated master’s program for Applied Biology at EVMS. Moving back to Tidewater, he became involved with UJFT’s young adult program called, “Gesher City.” Webbased to promote Jewish conversations beyond Tidewater, the members were also asked to enroll in local interest-specific activities. Wagner joined the biking, movie watching and sushi eating subgroups. The program eventually evolved into UJFT’s Young Adult Division (YAD). Taking on one more activity, Wagner became a BBYO advisor. Although he knew he was giving up his limited “free” time, he was happy to supervise the teens at their local meetings as well as the national conventions and inter-community activities. His younger brother, Max, became one of his chapter’s members. That year, he applied to EVMS’s medical school and was accepted. With graduation, he spent the summer at the University of Pittsburgh, participating in a research fellowship focused on vascular surgery. In September, 2008, Wagner needed no encouragement to attend the first Purim party sponsored by YAD. He went alone, knowing that he would see childhood acquaintances as well as have the opportunity to make new friends. Registered with YAD, Erica Solomon, then YAD director,
Shauna and Jason Wagner.
invited him to other events. “Although, I had very little free time, YAD made it so easy to socialize. Everything was arranged. All I had to do was show-up,” he says. “I had no Jewish social life at school, so it was perfect.” At the start of his second year in med school, September, 2009, he met his future wife, Shauna, at the group’s first happy hour. New in town, she had called the Federation, looking to become affiliated. The two became friends, both serving on the Super Sunday steering committee. “She always made me laugh. We really enjoyed each other’s company.” In time, Wagner became co-chair of “Happy Hour” with Melanie Stein and then Jake Shuman. This past year, he sat on the screening committee for the Jewish Film Festival to represent the interests of the 20 something generation. He has been a pilot since the age of 16. He rides a motorcycle, scuba dives, skis, travels and repairs watches, a skill that, ironically, helped him through a med school interview. On May 19, Wagner received his medical doctorate from Eastern Virginia Medical School. He is off to the University of Pittsburgh for his integrated residency in vascular surgery, taking one of the 36 spots in the country. On an accelerated track for so long, Wagner has created a path for his future. Knowing that his free time is once again limited, he will be forced to make deliberate choices. The one thing that he knows, for sure, is that his days will continue to hold many more “happy hours.” “I really have YAD to thank for that,” he says. “My wife’s humor has a direct link to my funny bone.”
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